The Struggle is Indeed Real by Pastor John Kitterman
When my children were 5 and 3 years old, the family took a day trip to a nearby softball field where Debbie was playing in a tournament. We planned to be there all day so we packed several bags, a beach umbrella, and a cooler full drinks and food. Debbie grabbed her things and went out to the field because we were running a few minutes late.
As I gathered all these items and the children, they announced that they wanted to help. So, I gave them an assignment to carry a light paper sack that had some blankets and towels. The sack had those nice twisted handles and each child grabbed a handle. I picked up everything else, checked the parking lot for oncoming cars and started out toward the field.
We made it 3 or 4 steps (into the middle of the driving lane) before they each went slightly different directions and ripped the bag. Brandi began to cry. I put down the cooler and bent down to console her when the umbrella slipped from my shoulder and bonked her on the head. Now she was really crying and a car was now headed toward us.
There is a popular phrase to describe these types of situations and it goes, “the struggle is real.” There is no doubt that at times raising small children make it easy to agree that the struggle is indeed real. Raising children presents us with an unpredictable set of challenges but “the struggle” is not limited to that arena. Life has a way of throwing us all sorts of struggles.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you might have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33). Jesus is highlighting a difference between trouble (struggle) outside of us in the world and the peace he causes inside of us.
What we see from Jesus here is that we can internalize heavenly, shalom, peace, while the struggle swirls around us. Jesus provides a source of peace that transcends our circumstances. There are indeed times when it seems as though God is so silent that His peace leaves us. It’s in these moments we cling to the promises He has spoken to us personally or through scripture.
To close out my story. A passing stranger walked by and scooped up the cooler, hoisting it up onto his shoulder. I grabbed Brandi and we all cleared the roadway. This man carried the cooler all the way to the field. This story is lighthearted, but many of our struggles are more serious.
In this fallen world, our struggles can range from family relationships, to financial, to dealing with the loss of a loved one. Jesus had just explained to his disciples that he would be leaving the earth and returning to heaven. The disciples would experience the loss of Jesus’. He explained that they would experience grief but that it would turn to joy.
What if God asked you to stop the struggle? To stop being in a constant state of struggle. To stop struggling against your mind. To stop struggling against your body. To stop struggling against your family. To stop struggling against money. To stop struggling to feel normal again. To stop struggling against the idea that you’ll never live up to expectations. To stop struggling against the idea that you’re not a good enough parent. To stop struggling against the monsters inside your head that no one understands. To stop struggling against the words spoken over you. To stop struggling against a permanent sense of loss.
We may not be rescued from every struggle because the struggle is indeed real. But superior to the struggle is the Jesus that has overcome the world and the struggle. In Him we can have peace in the midst of the struggle.
What is your current struggle? In Jesus, there is peace. Let’s trade our struggles for an internal peace in Jesus that passes all understanding.